Archive for the ‘Fun stuff’ Category

"A case of one-dimensional data being represented by two-dimensional objects"

posted by Brendan Hodgson

As one who is fascinated by the collision of mainstream and social media, imagery and interpretation, transparency and ‘truth’, there’s so much here in this tidbit of a blog post to enjoy and dissect, where even to start?

  1. It (once again) highlights the power of the visual image over the written and spoken word to communicate a message or point of view (no matter how skewed, while further acknowledging that, for the digital native, the web is all about graphics before text).
  2. It nicely encapsulates today’s journalist / blogger / reader relationship (or what today’s relationship should be, meaning mutually respectful)
  3. It reinforces the entertainment value of ’smart’ dialog (and not simply that of the journalist)
  4. It is politely scolding to them’s that tried to ’spin’ it (vs degenerating into the usual orgy of condemnation and holier-than-thou-ishness)
  5. It shows that by admitting your mistake, you will be forgiven (or, at best, ignored)
  6. And nothing here seems to take itself too seriously

It’s like a breath of fresh air… that is, if the bigger issue being represented in the visual wasn’t so depressing.

Hat tip to Inner Diablog

Dialing the noise up to Eleven… US Airways Flight 1549 and citizen media

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Yesterday, my colleague David Jones pointed to an animation created by Niall Cook, H&Ker and fellow blogger, showing the rapid transformation of Wikipedia’s entry on the crash of US Airways Flight 1549 on Jan 15. By itself, it highlighted the extraordinary speed by which citizens are increasingly able to match and, very often, surpass the speed of media in accessing and distributing new information around the incident.

As a companion to that animation, H&K Canada’s digital team also captured (as the event unfolded) screen caps of key sites – search engines, blogs, social networks, corporate sites, aggregators etc. – that I believe further demonstrates and reinforces the sheer dynamism of the communications environment in which we now exist; as it relates to the speed by which information on an incident is communicated and shared (e.g. via Twitter), the competitiveness as well as the synergy shaping the relationship between traditional and citizen media, and the actions taken by corporations to respond within this new environment.

Not all the timestamps on this slide deck are accurate or absolute, although they are certainly captured within minutes (if not seconds) of the event occuring – particularly during the first hours. Nor is the deck intended to be an exhaustive summary of all activity simply those that we felt captured this landscape, and these new issues, most effectively. Most importantly, these slides are not intended to comment either positively or negatively on the actions of authors, witnesses, posters or organizations involved.

H&K Election Predictor 2008 Nails It! … (well, almost)

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Thirty-six days, 72,000 visits, nearly 700,000 page views, and 100+ mentions across various political and media blogs and discussion forums later, and the moment of judgement for the 2008 version of Hill & Knowlton Canada’s Federal Election Predictor is upon us…

As always, there is considerable trepidation when the final voting percentages are added into the system. And as always, it’s for naught. When broken down by party, our calculation (baked in proprietary mathematical goodness) was remarkably close to the end result… In fact, it was off by - wait for it - six seats (6).

Official Results:    CPC – 143 / LIB – 76 / NDP – 37 / BQ – 50 / GREEN – 0 / IND – 2

Predictor Results: CPC – 143 / LIB – 74 / NDP – 38 / BQ – 52 / GREEN – 0 / IND – 1 

Granted, a few discrepancies appear when the data is analyzed at the specific riding level (meaning that a few of the ridings we predicted didn’t match up with the official outcome). Overall, however, the digital team at H&K is pretty chuffed that we were able to play along with the big boys – pollsters, pundits and academics alike – in the seat projection game.

Of course, we’ll let others figure out what this all means, if anything, to the art and/or science of seat projection. From the standpoint of what it means for H&K, however, it’s clearly become a powerful franchise for ensuring the H&K brand remains top-of-mind with target audiences during an election campaign.

As an exercise in social media activation, our respective French and English Facebook pages generated a respectable 700 referrals collectively, while the site itself received positive saturation across the Canadian political blogosphere. Traditional media sites also played an important role with MacLean’s alone driving 1500+ visits (and further amplifying our footprint). And not surprisingly, Wikipedia was a key vehicle for awareness-raising, driving 3500+ visits to the site.

Ultimately, it was interesting to see such a high level of engagement on the site itself – with an average of 5 minutes spent per visit – as well as by bloggers and digital pundits via their own sites. Likewise, it was great to see (where the stats allowed) strong representation by those audiences who matter most to H&K’s public affairs teams – government bureaucrats at all levels, elected officials, academic institutions, competitors, and corporations both large and small.

Oh yeah, and the Conservatives secured another minority government.

When what you see is not always what you get…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

You don’t need to read German to understand the point being made here… and in all the other classic examples gathered for your viewing pleasure.

Although in addition to “buyer beware”, I would also suggest that this is one more example of the power of the consumer to impose a previously-unattainable degree of transparency on the “fantasy” being sold by advertisers.

(courtesty of Neatorama)

Alberta Election Predictor 2008 launches… What’s your take on the numbers?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

2008 Alberta Election PredictorOnce more into the breach! H&K Canada has today unveiled the newest edition of its highly popular Election Predictor franchise in time for the March 3rd election in Alberta, home to much of Canada’s oil and gas industry, and key driver of Canada’s economy.

As with previous versions, we’re giving Albertans (and anyone else with an interest in Alberta politics) to test their predictions and view how those predictions translate into seats.

You can also register to save your prediction and share it via your own blog or Facebook profile, and to see your predictions and the saved predictions of others via our Google Map.

As bloggers of all stripes jump into the debate, we hope the election predictor will provide an informative and entertaining perspective on the numbers. As always, we look forward to your feedback.

Update: Those of you seeking a good summary overview of the election platforms of the various parties, current polls, and links to a variety of relevant sources, can find it here and here.

Kerry Diotte at the Calgary Sun is also seeking your predictions on his blog here.

Check out the Globe & Mail’s Alberta Election blog (Alberta Votes) here.

Keep hitting the refresh button… over and over (and over) again

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Easing gently into 2008, I thought I’d start off with a more light-hearted and somewhat ironic ode to that great time-waster, Facebook.


PR Pet Peeves for a Friday Afternoon… Industry self-flagellation & (more) jargon

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Is it just me, or are public relations practitioners – in particular, the bloggers – an uber-sensitive lot? Echo chamber effect aside, are there other industries out there – besides politics – that feel the need to publicly goose one-another more than we do? If so, I’d love to know. Granted, I’ve itched to question the (often half-baked) decisions of my competitors (and have stated as much), but let’s not transform what might be useful discussions - or even those less-than-useful - into glorified episodes of America’s Next Top Model. Yeah, conflict makes for good reading (nay, rubbernecking), but do you really want to be remembered by potential clients or employees for simply being good at slagging others? Who knows when you might be knocking on their door for a job?

That said, I cannot claim absolute innocence. Once upon a time (meaning pre-21st century), I jumped all over a member of the marketing community for pronouncing himself a “concepteur” (granted, it had been a bad day all round, and that just capped it off) which led to some pretty ribald exchanges in the letters section of Canada’s Marketing magazine.  Today, however, my latest peeves are jargon-y stink bombs like “ideation” which remind me of a recent Economist obituary for Jim Michaels, a former editor of Forbes, who once tore a strip off a journalist for using the term “upscale”:

“His edits, seen by everyone on the open filing system, were surreptitiously collected in the “Abuse File”. Some entries became famous outside the magazine, such as his wild reaction to “upscale”: “IF I SEE THIS WORD AGAIN ILL UPTHROW”. Copies are still circulating.” 

Metaphor for Crisis Management in a 2.0 World… or simply a great video?

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Wrapping a PR context around a truly awesome video is never easy. But here goes… and, yeah, it’s a stretch. But you’ll thank me for it.

Think Crisis in a Web 2.0 world. Consider the virtual tidal wave of “noise” – the new voices - that would likely erupt, and which could potentially overwhelm an organization unprepared to deal with the implications of the social web. Consider how an organization must now react in order to keep pace with this surge of new information (and misinformation) that could literally overwhelm their capacity to effectively manage the crisis. Think speed, agility, and focus – critical factors required in equal measure to endure through such a maelstrom.

Or… simply enjoy this video as I did (particularly when the camera first pulls back from the surfer). It’s Friday. Whatever.


When social media gets too social…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

The problem I sometimes have with social media is that it’s so, well, social. In fact, it’s quite likely that were I not blogging, I would not have met many of H&K’s direct (and indirect) competitors – who are generally quite nice people. But damn if that doesn’t take away from the thrill of the fight. Even panels at conferences on social media – where people really want to see some blood – have largely become love-fests. It’s a shame. In the context of corporate Canada rarely do we enjoy true face-to-face confrontations, other than perhaps a few stares and glares as one pitch team walks into a boardroom as another walks out.

And that’s disappointing. Which is why I sometimes wish we might all one day gather up our respective teams, meet in the middle of a field, and (if nothing else), lay down some heavy aggro on one another… much like this:

or this (itself a fine piece of marketing a la Braveheart)…

Is it me, or am I the only person NOT at Mesh?

posted by Brendan Hodgson


(cue tumbleweed visual and appropriate Sergio Leone background score)

I should caveat this by saying that, while I’d rather be hob-nobbing with my fellow flacks, I’m not avoiding this gig out of choice, as I was called out to Calgary for work…

So there’d better be some serious live blogging happening!